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Business & Regulation Business Practice, Small Molecules, Supply Chain, Vaccines

Protecting Global Health

This article is part of our special focus on "traditional" pharma: The Small Molecule Manufacturer (read more here). You can find more articles from The Small Manufacturer here.

The pharma industry is already preparing its counter offensive against the coronavirus, with companies like Janssen, Sanofi and Inovio all working on vaccines. But the industry must also protect the rest of its patients, by keeping a close eye on supply chains and the potential for medicines shortages caused by disruption in China.

China is a huge contributor to the world of medicine manufacture, particularly in the small-molecule space. India, for example, is said to import around 70 percent of its API requirements from China (1). And a huge proportion of the US’ supply of antibiotics and 95 percent of its ibuprofen are made in China (2). Prices of some key medicines are already reported to be on the rise in India following the outbreak (3). China is also a key supplier of excipients and other ingredients, as well as many lab and manufacturing consumables.

The FDA says it is “keenly” aware that the medical product supply chain will be disrupted – and the agency is already in contact with hundreds of drug manufacturers to monitor the situation. But manufacturing disruptions are not the only source of shortages; panic buying compounds the issue – and the FDA is already tracking reports of increased ordering through distributors of medical devices and medical personal protective equipment. Other agencies and governments worldwide are also keeping a close watch on the situation, particularly when it comes to medical supplies.

This health emergency isn’t the first faced by the pharma industry and health authorities – and it won’t be the last. Important lessons have been learned from previous outbreaks, such as Ebola, SARS and swine flu. Let us hope these serve us well in bringing the coronavirus under control as quickly as possible.

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  1. This Is Money, “Indian generic drugmakers may face supply shortages from China if coronavirus drags on,” (2020). Available at:
  2. BioWorld, “Coronavirus outbreak in China sparks fears of disruption for global drug supplies,” (2020). Available at:
  3. The Times of India, “Paracetamol prices up 40% as coronavirus shuts China,” (2020). Available at:
About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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